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by Peter Moskos

April 20, 2016

In case you forgot...

Civil forfeiture is still a problem. A man in Chicago has been trying for 13 years to get $101,000 is cash back from the those who stole it.
Last year, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago collected more than $19 million in asset forfeitures. The Justice and Treasury departments raked in more than $4.5 billion nationally in 2014.
Is this case there were no drugs, and, as often happens, the man whose money was taken was never charged with a crime. Take it from Yakov Smirnoff: "What a country!"


Andy D said...

I have had a question about Civil Forfeiture for some time and it goes like this: I know there is a lot of abuse of the system. I know it makes sense to require there to be a criminal conviction in order to seize assets. But....what happens when you stop a car and find $200,000 wrapped in duct tape in a hidden compartment, but no drugs? Drug traffickers know better than to transport both together. Short of the ideal (ending the war on drugs) what should be done? Let the money be transported without restriction? What happens right now is we seize the money, and the person in possession of it are required to prove that they legally possessed it. We know that they cannot. If they can come to court and provide bank records and receipts that show the source, they get it back. I am sympathetic to the need to reform this system. It can result in grandma and grandpa having their entire mattress savings account seized by unscrupulous cops. But the vast majority of those types of seizures are of money that is ill-gotten and destined for the cartels.

Peter Moskos said...

If there's no crime you give the money back. Period.

How did we get to place where we can even argue the the state has a right to take money without cause? [answer: the war on drugs] I'd like to think we're better than this.

It's not like civil forfeiture was won the war on drugs. (Or really, even made a dent.) And it has seriously beat back civil liberties in a free society. And mostly the goal isn't even to take money from drug dealers. It's a revenue stream used to fund police department. That is wrong. And it messes up policing, too.

Convict people of crimes. Fine them if you can. But just taking money without cause? That's third-world dictatorial legal extortion. The fact that innocent people do get their $$$ taken from them is a disgrace. And I'm willing to give some criminals back their ill-gotten money to take the moral high ground. At the end of the day, I don't care if some drug dealer gets to keep some of his money some of the time.